Your health should not have to wait in line to get checked up. How often do you find yourself going back and forth between your family physician, then to the laboratory for a blood test, and back to your doctor for another check up? Not to mention waiting in the dreary room even though you had your appointment booked days in advance. The amount of hours this process takes eventually leads people to postpone their health when in fact it should have been taken care of immediately.
Well, that is where the savior concept of blockchain comes in, and it’s crucial for everyone to understand what is up-and-coming. Before any discussion can be held on the application of blockchain, we must have a clear definition of what blockchain is and how this concept applies to your healthcare needs.
An Easy Understanding of Blockchain for Beginners
In the past several months, recent news articles have been hyping up the legitimacy of applying blockchain methods to other industries, and one of biggest areas is the Healthcare Information Technology (IT) sector. The blockchain is the new foundation of the Internet for over a decade. It derived from the idea of bitcoin, which is a digital currency method that has close to $112 billion in value in the United States. Now, the tech community has expanded the value of economic transactions that are made virtually. Basically, blockchain has become the foundation of the new type of Internet, and it’s a revolution for incorruption and systemic efficiency.
The blockchain is simply another type of cryptocurrency such as the bitcoin. It is like a public ledger system where individuals can record their transactions; in regards to healthcare, these transactions are datasets such as blood tests, surgeries, implants, insurance information, and more. Each transaction is a “block” (hence the title of blockchain) and the blocks are added to other existing blocks until it creates a “chain”. Once each block is verified and approved, it is added to the public log and remains permanent.
If you still don’t know how it works, that’s okay. You actually don’t need to know the specific technicalities of how it works to use it, just like the Internet.
“Basically, blockchain has become the foundation of the new type of Internet, and it’s a revolution for incorruption and systemic efficiency.”
Let’s put this concept from the perspective of a NBA basketball game. There are generally two teams, a scorekeeper, and a referee. All players must unanimously agree on the rules beforehand so that no one is cheating or making foul plays. Fans are watching the game and can help maintain the system to keep it in check.
Analogous to blockchain, each block is the score and all the fans and spectators help keep them in check of the rules. To reward those who help keep accurate scores, now fans can get rewarded for keeping the system updated and in check. Whoever is the first to correctly verify and approve the score (or “block”) will get rewarded for contributing to the public log system. Now, even though the fans are not the actual million dollar basketball players, they have the opportunity to gain benefits for their contribution to the overall score.
Same as the cryptocurrency, users who are not even involved in the transactions but also part of the blockchain node also keeps track of transactions as well and record their own blocks. The way logs across the system remain exact copies of each other as new blocks are updated and added is through solving a sort of computational math puzzle.
The Impact of Blockchain on Healthcare
The impact of blockchain could potentially have on the healthcare sector are numerous. It has a high potential to generate easier access and sharing of information for healthcare records. More time will be saved with the accessibility to track and ship for supply chains. Blockchains can also aid in the medical recording by providing an immutable medical record that cannot be changed, aiding in any legal cases in which an untampered medical record is needed. Patient records can be consolidated into a single record; lab results, treatments, disease registries, treatments, etc. can all be compounded together to give a holistic view of patient history so that providers can plan better strategies of healthcare. You will no longer find yourself wasting time back and forth between each lab and all your data will be in one safe place.
List of blockchain benefits:
- Patient data sharing issues can also be addressed across state borders, where regulations regarding patient privacy and consent vary from state to state.
- Permission checking will keep patient data secure while granting easy information access for other permitted parties to view. It can also assist in settling payments between insurance providers, hospitals, and patients.
- Patients can be also incentivized and rewarded from following a care plan, following appointments, and staying healthy through the blockchain system.
- Patients may also be rewarded for sharing their data with clinical trials and research.
The Reality of Blockchain
Blockchain definitely has its ups, but those come with its downsides. It is not designed for the use of analytics. Blockchains has issues with transactional performance; for example, bitcoin runs at around 7 transactions per second. To put in an easier context to understand, 7 transactions is almost nothing compared to something like VISA, where around 24,000 transactions are recorded per second! It has problems with large data storage over time and scalability issues. Because the logs have to be recorded, it can lead to large numbers of information that gets repossessed, leading to high inefficiency costs. Greater research is still ongoing to optimize data transfer within blockchain.
If the problems currently facing blockchain can be resolved, then we may be able to enjoy faster and more efficient healthcare in the future. There wouldn’t be a need to wait in line at the doctor’s office while the office workers call various providers and to see if you are qualified to receive care. Doctors would be able to streamline your personal healthcare plans by having access to your past healthcare plans and plan accordingly to how different methods have worked and what new steps could be taken. You can be more involved in your own health by having up-to-date biometrics data, monitoring your own progress, and keeping up a routine of visiting your healthcare provider on a regular basis.
Blockchain Makes Strides in Ensuring Data Validity
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have made a proof-of-concept technique to ensure the integrity of data in different clinical trials utilizing blockchain. Currently, this system creates the immutable audit
Blockchain technology utilizes the old computer science method called hashing. Hashing creates a rare digital signature for particular blocks of data. These hashes accumulate as new data is changed or entered, and as a result, information blocks build on top of one another sequentially. The resulting “blockchain” makes one audit trail for the regulators, which is easy to validate and decipher, without even looking at the data.
For example, Daniel Wong is a Ph.D. student in Biological & Medical Informatics at the University of California, San Francisco. He has built this type of system to operate through the web portal. As data is changed or entered within the given trial, the information about the participants, timestamp, receiver, the sender, and file attachments with data accumulate together with the hash from the last data block. While most blockchain applications are decentralized, this new clinical trial prototype relies on containing the regulator along with centralized authority. This technique is used by organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Moreover, data that includes adverse events will be reported to a regulatory agency, which will cause an increase in the efficiency and safety of the clinical trials. While the older version of blockchain created allowances for the data entry or some other mistakes to be error-free, new data will be appended to an existing chain in this decentralized form of blockchain, without having to remove existing information. Now more than ever, it will be extremely clear if data has been corrupted or altered to affect the results of the trial.
In conclusion, blockchain technology might enable trials to be examined under some challenging conditions and will open doors to data exchanges which are secure, efficient, and transparent for the researchers as well as the public. Ultimately, a decentralized version of blockchain has the ability to impact not just researchers but also the public as a whole.
The Best Mental Health Apps for Managing Heartbreak, Stress and Anxiety
Having access to improved resources for managing mental health can lead to more accessible treatment options for individuals that are struggling. Alternative treatments are becoming easier as technology is continuously advancing, making mental health applications more accessible and inexpensive. Now it is possible to access alternative treatments even if you cannot afford a professional therapist.
Here are some of the best new applications available for a reasonable price or even free that you can use for managing stress, anxiety and even heartbreak
- What’s up: What’s up is an application designed for cognitive behavioral therapy. It uses a type of therapy called acceptance and commitment therapy. The overall goal of this application is to help individuals cope with anxiety, stress, and depression. On board with this application is a tracker that can help you with breaking out of negative habits. There are specific pages that can be used to pinpoint some of your feelings and discover patterns that could be having a negative effect on your lifestyle. The applications available for both Android and IOS and it can help with creating positive changes in your life.
- Mind Shift: This is a free application that’s designed for young adults and teens and their struggle with anxiety. Rather than actively trying to avoid areas where you can experience anxiety, changing your mindset in the way that you think in anxious situations can be a far healthier choice. This app can work almost as an encouraging force inside your pocket and it can teach you mindset approaches that could help you to change the way that you react in stressful situations, as well as face your fears when it comes to anxiety.
- SAM: Sam is an application otherwise known as self-help for anxiety management. The application is built primarily for sufferers of anxiety and it can help as an ongoing journal for tracking anxious thoughts.
There’s25 built-in self-help techniques throughout the application that you can use to find support in extremely anxious situations. The database also comes with a social cloud where you can connect with other individuals that suffer from anxiety to act as a support group for one another. The online support group and the actionable plans that can be used for managing anxiety make this an extremely popular and powerful app for anxiety.
- Happify: This application is purpose-built to help individuals that struggle with mood affecting conditions. If you regularly struggle with depression this application can help you to improve your mood with activity suggestions, prompts for gratitude and highly engaging games that can help you turn your mood around. The app is purpose-built to help you overcome negative thoughts and it’s completely free for help when you need it.
- Recovery record: This application is designed for anyone recovering from negative body image issues or an eating disorder. This application can be used to help you keep records of a meal plan over time and to help you work towards a more positive body image over time.
Keep some of these top applications in mind if you are looking for a free helping hand that you can access
List of The Best Health Applications Made Just For You
Are you looking for an app related to tracking your footsteps, maintaining your diet, or searching for your symptoms? Well luckily, there are a great number of apps on the iOS or Android Playstore available for your choosing. The difficulty plays in deciding and differentiating which app most caters to your personal needs.
Below is a list of ten health-related apps that you may or may not have heard of. These apps range from fitness-related apps to mental-health apps. Read and comment below on your personal experiences of the apps you may be looking for or to discover.
Argus is a daily fitness tracking app with pedometer capabilities and calorie tracking. It can pair your other biometric fitness devices such as the Fitbit. The calorie tracking feature has a breakdown of the basic macronutrients of carbs, fat, and protein, but the specific breakdown of the types of sub-nutrients are locked behind a paywall. There is also the option of following different meal plans according to different styles of diets; however, this option is offered only for premium-only subscribers.
Nike Training is a fitness app that has a wide variety of selection for different muscle group you are trying to target. There are premade workouts for you to follow along with and to motivate you, and each exercise and workout has small video demos of a real person demonstrating the exercise. Each activity or workout has an estimated time length, difficulty level, and intensity level so that users can plan how they want to exercise according to their needs. This customizable factor makes it one of the more popular apps available, plus it is attached to the company Nike that has millions of supporting fans existing!
A fitness exercise app that keeps you invested by having a point system for keeping up a daily regimen. A small little avatar named FRED calculates your points for completing exercises. This external motivator is excellent for those who need additional help to stay on track or meet goals. Also, having a collection of points helps keep people on track of the progress they have made on the app with small videos for each exercise performed.
Lose it! This is a calorie tracker app that has a full pre-registered log of food that has suggested calories for meals. For people who want a simple way to count calories without looking up their food choices online and want to calculate their portion sizes, this app is perfect for saving time and tracking your choices. There are some features locked behind the premium paywall ($30/year) which include tracking different macronutrients, pattern insights to eating, and the ability to set more goals for yourself.
Map my run is primarily a running tracking app that utilizes GPS functionality to log your route and track your distance for you. Also, it has gear tracking enabled so you can link your smart shoes to the app and record the run. There is a social network aspect to the app where you can see the community photos and find friends to share your progress with. Having a community is helpful if you need to view other people’s progress and be motivated enough to compete with them.
This fantastic health tracking app keeps track of your daily calories and also covers a wide list of most foods you may eat! MyFitnessPal allows the user to create custom meals for dishes made at home that is not available on the app. This customizable option of meals helps you keep track of the calories in settings that usually don’t provide access to the caloric count. In addition, it helps save time for you in the future by selecting your custom pre-set food so you don’t have to add the ingredients each time manually.
Couch to 5k is an app that will get you to running 5ks in only two months. It has a fitness plan broken down in easy- to- digest segments for beginners and advanced people alike. You just need to commit three days per week, and the running exercises at the beginning gradually build up your endurance and push you to endure harder exercises at the end. It helps you take small steps to reach your end goal and before you know it, you’ll have developed a habit for life!
Sweatcoin is an app that tracks your steps and uses a high conversion rate to convert your steps into sweatcoins (1000 steps/sweatcoin). Sweatcoin can be redeemed for prizes that range from coupons to things like speakers and iPhones. Sweatcoins are capped at 5 each day and cannot be traded, so it guarantees the user is putting in work for their end reward. With health as a prize in itself, now people can be materialistically be rewarded for their progress. There are even cash prizes that can be redeemed as well. Earning tangible rewards is another external motivator for people who like to work towards goals and keep track of their progress consistently.
Headspace is a meditation app that has a series of recording for resolving problems based on current needs. A smooth calming voice walks you through the process, and afterward you feel refreshed and focused for the rest of the day. It is fantastic for meditating anywhere and anyplace provided, as long as you have headphones. This activity requires little time, as short as under 10 minutes, to reap the full benefits!
Calm is a meditation app that has different styles of meditation. There are different styles of meditation that play pre-recorded audio that walks you through the process of meditation. What is enjoyable about the app is the unique styles of meditation already premade, so you can immediately begin the process without the fuss of scrolling through different topics and trying to figure which one fits your style. You are not limited by what you choose initially and you should try browsing all the styles to see which one works best for you.
Aura is a meditation app that allows you to choose which meditation style you need for that moment. A person will speak and guide you through the process to help you achieve whatever state you required. You can read user reviews of different playlists and find the one that suits you the best. Premium features of this app include life coaching, stories, and music. There is also a community to help share thoughts and feedback on different playlists so you can find people to connect with on your personal journey towards a better mental state.
HIIT Workouts are for people who want to be physically challenged and have a limited amount of time in their day to do so. There are different types of workouts to varying levels of difficulty. You get a virtual trainer who will take you through the exercises and demonstrates the exercises. Most workouts are less than half an hour long, but high-intensity training is meant to get your body moving fast in as little time as possible. With a premium subscription, you can unlock more exercises and customize them as well.
Lifesum is a calorie tracker app that has an extensive list of foods you can record and also has a barcode scanner to make calorie tracking even more convenient. Tracking your food and calories is simple with this app, and you only need to spend a few seconds jotting down your meals, so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Premium features that are available include access to recipe list and tailored meal plan specific to your needs and wants.
Keep Training is a fitness tracking app that plans workouts on a timeline for you. By determining your exercise experience level and your goals for fitness, you will be able to download your fitness plan and exercise to take with you without needing to be connected to the internet. The demos in the exercises are amazing in the amount of detail and information given for each exercise. From a video demonstration of the exercise to the pictures of the specific muscles being targeted to common mistakes, you will be able to understand each exercise and the impact it has on your body.
Walking is a fitness app that tracks your walking pace. If you walk often, this app is excellent for keeping track of your steps. Even if you don’t go for frequent walks, you should still consider this app as a low-intensity activity that you can keep up nearly every day. Just walking outside after meals can keep you feeling refreshed and focused on lots of other health benefits. Features that are included after buying a premium subscription include 80+ workouts, 1200+min of vocal training, 70+ weight loss tips, and no ads.
Run for a good cause! Charity Miles is an active fitness app that allows you to choose a charity you want to donate to and earn money for them by running or biking miles! If you run often, need external motivation, or want an extra incentive besides staying in shape, this app is created just for you. You also have the option to get friends to sponsor your efforts and donate money to your cause.
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